• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

Portage ready for new public works director and finance director | News

The city of Portage has been without a Public Works Director since last summer. That could change after the officials approved conditional job offers Thursday night.

The Human Resources committee met on Zoom and were in closed session for about 20 minutes to discuss three positions; Public Works Director, Finance Director and Utility Manager.

Last week the Portage Common Council approved job offers for a public works director and finance director. An offer for utility manager is set to be on the Feb. 10 agenda, City Administrator Shawn Murphy said.

“We had a verbal commitment, but did not get a written commitment until the day of the meeting,” Murphy said. “So it’ll be on the next meeting agenda

Phil Livingston was selected after the city received 13 applications for Public Works Director and City Engineer position. City documents show five candidates were selected for interviews.

Livingston is currently going through the background check and physically and drug screening process and is set to start on Feb. 28.

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Aaron Jahncke was the former Public Works Director. Following his resignation the city decided to split the public works director position with the utilities manager position.

Murphy said the positions were split due to the broad scope of what Jahncke was doing as Director.

“The positions were combined around 2008 due to budget constraints,” Murphy said. “Things are constantly changing with these sewer and water regulations with PFAS and phosphorous in the water system.”

PFAS are defined as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that the Wisconsin DNR defines as “are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s.”

In 2019, Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order creating the PFAS coordinating council, as part of the state’s larger plan on PFAS.

Livingston met with two panels made up of Columbia County Highway Commissioner Chris Hardy, Portage Street Superintendent Kim Standke, Portage’s Director of Business Development and Planning Steve Sobiek and Murphy. A second panel also interviewed three finalists and Livingston was chosen as the final candidate.

Livingston has been a project engineer for a construction company in Illinois since 2012.

Portage’s Finance Director Jean Mohr announced last year she would be retiring in 2022. After that announcement the city began a search for a new finance director.

Last week a conditional offer was approved for Jennifer Becker for the Finance Director. Three applicants had applied for the position. They were interviewed by an initial panel of City Clerk Marie Moe, City of Baraboo Finance Director Julie Ostrander, Mohr and Murphy. Then a second panel of Mayor Rick Dodd and Alderpersons Marty Havlovic and Dennis Nachreiner.

Two finalists were named and were brought back for an opportunity to meet with department heads and alderpersons on Jan. 20.

Becker has been the village of Pardeeville Clerk/Treasurer since March 2017. Murphy said Becker is scheduled to start Feb. 21.

Both Becker and Livingston are required to a serve a six-month probationary period.

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